Friday, December 17, 2010

Blood-Retinal Barrier

The blood-retinal barrier (BRB) is composed of non-fenestrated capillaries of the retinal circulation and tight-junctions between retinal epithelial cells preventing passage of large molecules from choriocapillaris into the retina. The blood-retinal barrier is part of the blood-ocular barrier that consists of specialized endothelial cells that are joined tightly together in order to prevent certain substances from entering the tissue of the retina. Diabetic retinopathy, eye damage that frequently occurs as a result of diabetes, is related to the breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier. The barrier becomes more leaky in patients with diabetic retinopathy.

The blood-retinal barrier has two components: the retinal vascular endothelium and the retinal pigment epithelium. Retinal blood vessels that are similar to cerebral blood vessels maintain the inner blood-ocular barrier. This physiological barrier comprises a single layer of non-fenestrated endothelial cells, which have tight junctions. These junctions are impervious to tracer, so many substances can impact the metabolism of the eyeball. The retinal pigment epithelium maintains the outer blood-retinal barrier.